Part 4 – Why a Strategic Approach is essential for long-term NetZero success

What are the Practical Steps Schools & Academy Trusts can take to reduce Carbon emissions and move towards a NetZero future?

This is the fourth part in a series of blogs, where we aim to answer this question by examining a different aspect of NetZero/de-carbonisation each week and hopefully we will provide some contextualised practical information and guidance for Schools and Trusts. In this week’s blog we will be focussing on why it’s essential to have a strategic approach to deliver long term success. In the previous three blogs in this series, we have covered a lot of ground, but the focus has been very much about how to get started on a NetZero journey and looking at what short term changes can be made to deliver quick wins. Therefore, as NetZero is clearly a long-term ambition with targets and goals stretching out years and decades to hopefully deliver the common goal of NetZero by 2050, we are going to be looking at the longer-term horizons and strategies needed to reach them.

In my humble opinion then I think it’s impossible to achieve the ultimate long term goal of NetZero without a well thought through and coherent strategy at every level, globally, nationally, regionally and locally at an organisational and even a personal level, and, so what defines a coherent strategy? well the OED defines strategy as “A plan of action designed to achieve a long-term or overall aim” and this is exactly what is needed, whilst accepting that a strategy on its own guarantees nothing and we all know that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions and corporate Strategies. So what is the magic ingredient that transforms a Strategy from a theoretical dust gathering exercise into a practical step by step delivery guide used and adopted by all on a daily basis? for this I don’t think you have to look any further than the Greek derivation of the word which comes from stratēgia ‘generalship’, and from stratēgos, or stratos ‘army’ + agein ‘to lead’ and this clearly reveals the magic ingredient as generalship or leadership, i.e. for a Strategy to succeed it needs the buy in and energy delivered from the leaders in any organisation. But just as a Strategy without leadership is destined to gather dust, then a vision and targets without a detailed plan of action (or strategy), will also fail and it’s why we are currently seeing so many climate scientists and commentators both welcome the UK Governments recent announcements and new ambitious 2035 NetZero targets, whilst at the same time pointing out that we don’t yet have a joined-up plan or strategy in place to deliver them.

So what does a good NetZero Strategy look like? Well in line with the definition of NetZero that includes all organisational activities across all its sites and through all its activities (including its supply chain and procurement), then your School or Trust NetZero strategy will need to encompass all aspects of your organisation’s activities and be embedded into every policy, procedure and other strategy that already exist. It will need to be a series of mini action plans, strategies, targets and changes that come together over time, in one place to deliver one goal and therefore it’s likely to include the following:

1. Introduction, covering:

a. Why?
b. Method and approach
c. Where are we now?
d. A vision and commitment from Governors, Trustees and Senior Leaders

2. Proposed Targets & Goals, including:

a. Short Term – now to 2025
b. Medium Term – 2030 to 2035
c. Longer Term – 2040 to 2050

3. Measuring and Reporting – method statement and steps required to capture accurate data across all operations and activities including:

a. Scope 1 – Direct – Combustion in boilers & cars
b. Scope 2 – Purchase of Electricity
c. Scope 3 – Indirect – Procurement, Travel, Waste & Water

4. Organisational response, covering:

a. Governance, guiding values & accountability
b. Required cultural and behaviour changes
c. Education approach/curriculum and goals
d. Community engagement approach and goals

5. Infrastructure – Estates & digital covering:

a. Energy plan
b. Buildings and estates management
c. Water
d. Digital and ICT

6. Underpinning activities and environment, covering:

a. Procurement
b. Travel & Vehicles
c. Catering
d. Waste & recycling
e. Biodiversity & offsetting
f. Communications

In my experience it’s very unlikely that many organisations will have the skills, experience or resources in-house to develop such a comprehensive NetZero Strategy without Specialist help and, this is particularly true for Schools and Multi Academy Trusts, why would they! So one of the first things to do is to find that external and specialist help, and for most schools and Trusts this is the first hurdle to overcome, as it’s not obvious where to go for help and it’s a task that can be simply overwhelming.

A quick Google search will reveal a myriad of organisations that can or claim they can, provide you with a bewildering array of specialist help and approaches. You will also find a smaller number of multidisciplinary organisations that are large enough to provide a broad range of NetZero services and consultancy support, but these tend to be prohibitively expensive to engage with. So at enFrame we are here to help and we are trying to do the hard work for you to create some order out of chaos. Step by Step with our pathfinder schools and trusts, we are building an eco-system of NetZero specialist partners, resources and procurement frameworks especially for Schools & Trusts to provide a simple and affordable route to deliver a brighter NetZero future.

For more information on our partners and frameworks then please visit here or get in contact with us.